Hitler's Beneficiaries

Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State

Götz Aly

Metropolitan Books

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A stunning account of the economic workings of the Third Reich—and the reasons ordinary Germans supported the Nazi state

In this groundbreaking book, historian Götz Aly addresses one of modern history’s greatest conundrums: How did Hitler win the allegiance of ordinary Germans? The answer is as shocking as it is persuasive: by engaging in a campaign of theft on an almost unimaginable scale—and by channeling the proceeds into generous social programs—Hitler literally “bought” his people’s consent.

Drawing on secret files and financial records, Aly shows that while Jews and citizens of occupied lands suffered crippling taxation, mass looting, enslavement, and destruction, most Germans enjoyed an improved standard of living. Buoyed by millions of packages soldiers sent from the front, Germans also benefited from the systematic plunder of conquered territory and the transfer of Jewish possessions into their homes and pockets. Any qualms were swept away by waves of government handouts, tax breaks, and preferential legislation.
Gripping and important, Hitler’s Beneficiaries makes a radically new contribution to our understanding of Nazi aggression, the Holocaust, and the complicity of a people.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter One
The Dream of a “People’s Empire”
Heady Days
The National Socialist German Workers Party was founded on a doctrine of inequality between races, but it also promised Germans greater equality among themselves than they had enjoyed during either the Wilhelmine empire or the Weimar Republic. In practice, this goal was achieved at the expense of other groups, by means of a racist war of conquest. Nazi ideology conceived of racial conflict as an antidote to class conflict. By framing its program in this way, the party was propagating two age-old dreams of the German

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Praise for Hitler's Beneficiaries

“This remarkable book tackles in an entirely original manner one of the greatest paradoxes of the Nazi state: why did the German people increasingly support Hitler’s rule even after it unleashed a world war that ultimately led to its own destruction?  The answer, based on massive evidence and convincingly argued, is that the Nazi regime won the support of middle and working class Germans by creating greater social and economic equality at home and ensuring that its own “racial comrades” would be well fed and clothed, all with the proceeds of mass murder and unprecedented continent-wide robbery. This rewriting of history, which dismantles the conventional distinction between fanatical Nazis and sober civil servants, will irreversibly transform our understanding of the Third Reich, revealing it as a consensual dictatorship whose popularity was rooted in grand larceny and the profits of crimes against humanity on an unimaginable scale.”
—Omer Bartov, author of Germany’s War and the Holocaust: Disputed Histories
“A pathbreaking work.”
—Amos Elon, author of The Pity of It All: A History of the Jews in Germany
“In this book Aly once again brings to bear his formidable research skills, his knack for pursuing original lines of inquiry, and his incredible capacity to uncover neglected and seemingly innocuous documents. While I do not share Aly’s views about the underlying economic causes of the Holocaust, I nonetheless consider this a fascinating and important book about the Nazi economic policies that facilitated the regime’s capacity to implement the Final Solution.”
—Christopher R. Browning, author of Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland
“Thoroughly researched and fluently written, this book offers a new, brilliant, gripping and convincing dimension to the understanding of one of the most puzzling questions in the history of our times: why did so many Germans, both Nazis and ‘ordinary people’ support the persecution of the Jews. Enough with ideology, sociology and psychology: it was mostly about profit.”
—Tom Segev, author of The Seventh Million: Israel Confronts the Holocaust
Hitler’s Beneficiaries recalls the nightmare of older classical liberals like Alexis de Tocqueville and Max Weber, who feared that with the coming of mass society people would forsake liberty to enjoy materialism and its ‘petty pleasures.’ Götz Aly has written a brilliant yet disturbing book that shatters our complacencies.”
—John Patrick Diggins, author of Max Weber: Politics and the Spirit of Tragedy
“Shifting the focus from racist fanaticism as the key factor in the success of Nazism to the economic gains from looting and genocide, Aly provides fresh insights into the kleptocratic calculations behind Hitler’s great popularity. A bestseller in Germany, this important new book will stimulate renewed debate on why millions of ordinary Germans were lured into cheering for Hitler in peacetime and total war, and how we might come to grips with the enormous and still puzzling dynamism of one of the most murderous movements of the 20th century.”
—Volker R. Berghahn, author of Europe in the Era of Two World Wars
“Götz Aly is a highly original thinker who has made a range of breakthroughs in Holocaust Studies.”
—Raul Hilberg, author of The Destruction of the European Jews
“Never before has the symbiotic relationship between… the attractive and the criminal elements of National Socialism been so acutely and enlighteningly depicted.  This book is one of those rare works that sharpen our perspective no the darkest period in German history.”
Financial Times (Germany)
“A sensational new interpretation of the Nazi era.”
Neue Presse
“This book is required reading for anyone who wants to join future debates about the Third Reich and World War II.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine
“However rationally Aly describes the Holocaust, the horror is not lost. In fact, when one is confronted with the idea of racist insanity as a coolly calculated element in policies aimed to keep taxes low and reduce inflation, the very opposite is true… In places, this book reads like a detective story.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“Aly has turned the debate about the Holocaust upside-down. No future discussion will be able to ignore Hitler’s Beneficiaries.”
Frankfurter Rundschau
“In light of the immense number of participants in and profiteers from the ‘fiscal’ plundering of Europe, Aly opens up a new perspective on the question of guilt.”
Die Zeit
“After reading Aly, no one can still give credence to the claim of not having the looting of Nazi-occupied territories. Everyone profited.  Aly is doing some major housecleaning.”
Neue Zurcher Zeitung

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About the Author

Götz Aly

One of the most respected historians of the Third Reich and the Holocaust, Götz Aly is the author of Architects of Annihilation, among other books. Winner of Germany’s prestigious history award, the Heinrich Mann Prize, Aly has been a visiting fellow at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C., and currently teaches at the University of Frankfurt. He lives in Berlin.

Götz Aly

Susanne Schleyer
Götz Aly


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Available Formats and Book Details

Hitler's Beneficiaries
Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State
Götz Aly

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
Metropolitan Books
January 2008
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429923866
ISBN10: 1429923865
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 448 pages, Includes pictures throughout

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
January 2008
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780805087260
ISBN10: 0805087265
5 3/4 x 8 15/16 inches, 448 pages, Includes twenty illustrations and charts

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Metropolitan Books

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